"And what are they?" asked Danny.
"The postmark is dated April sixth 1896."
"And why is that of any significance?" asked Danny, trying not to sound impatient.
"That was the date of the opening ceremony of the first modern Olympic Games."
"And the second factor?" asked Danny, not waiting this time.
"The person the envelope is addressed to," said Prendergast, sounding rather pleased with himself.
"Baron de Coubertin," said Danny, not needing to be reminded.
"Correct," said the dealer. "It was the baron who founded the modern Olympics, and that is what makes your envelope a collector's item."
"Are you able to place a value on it?" asked Danny.
"That's not easy, sir, as the item is unique. But I would be willing to offer you two thousand pounds for it."
"Thank you, but I'd like a little time to think about it," replied Danny, and turned to leave.
"Two thousand two hundred?" said the dealer as Danny closed the door quietly behind him.
DANNY SPENT THE next few days settling into The Boltons, not that he thought he'd ever really feel at home in Kensington. That was until he met Molly.
Molly Murphy hailed from County Cork and it was some time before Danny could understand a word she was saying. She must have been about a foot shorter than Danny, and was so thin that he wondered if she had the strength to manage more than a couple of hours' work a day. He had no idea of her age, although she looked younger than his mother and older than Beth. Her first words to him were, "I charge five pounds an hour, cash. I won't be paying any tax to those English bastards," she had added firmly after learning that Sir Nicholas hailed from north of the border, "and if you don't think I'm up to it, I'll leave at the end of the week."
Danny kept an eye on Molly for the first couple of days, but it soon became clear that she had been forged in the same furnace as his mother. By the end of the week he was able to sit down anywhere in the house without a cloud of dust rising, climb into a bath that didn't have a water mark, and open the fridge to grab something without fearing he'd be poisoned.
By the end of the second week, Molly had started making his supper as well as washing and ironing his clothes. By the third week he wondered how he had ever survived without her.
Molly's enterprise allowed Danny to concentrate on other things. Mr. Munro had written to let him know that he had served a writ on his uncle. Hugo's solicitor had allowed the full twenty-one days to pass before acknowledging service.
Mr. Munro warned Sir Nicholas that Galbraith had a reputation for taking his time, but assured him that he would keep snapping at his ankles whenever the opportunity arose. Danny wondered how much this snapping would cost. He found out when he turned the page. Attached to Munro's letter was a bill for four thousand pounds, which covered all the work he had done since the funeral, including the serving of the writ.
Danny checked his bank statement, which had arrived, along with a credit card, in the morning post. Four thousand pounds would make a very large dent on the bottom line and Danny wondered how long he could survive before he would have to throw in the towel; it might have been a cliche but the expression did remind him of happier times in Bow.
During the past week, Danny had bought a laptop and a printer, a silver photo frame, several files, assorted pens, pencils and erasers, as well as reams of paper. He had already begun to build a database on the three men who had been responsible for Bernie's death, and he spent most of the first month entering everything he knew about Spencer Craig, Gerald Payne and Lawrence Davenport. That didn't amount to a great deal, but Nick had taught him that it's easier to pass exams if you've put in the research. He had just been about to begin that research when he received Munro's invoice, which reminded him how quickly his funds were drying up. Then he remembered the envelope. The time had come to seek a second opinion.
He picked up The Times-brought in by Molly every morning-and turned to an article he'd spotted on the Arts pages. An American collector had bought a Klimt for fifty-one million pounds in an auction at somewhere called Sotheby's.
Danny opened his laptop and googled Klimt to discover that he was an Austrian Symbolist painter, 1862-1918. He next turned his attention to Sotheby's, which turned out to be an auction house that specialized in fine art, antiques, books, jewelry and other collectible items. After a few clicks of the mouse, he discovered that collectible items included stamps. Those wishing to seek advice could do so by calling Sotheby's or by visiting their offices in New Bond Street.
Danny thought he'd take them by surprise, but not today, because he was going to the theater, and not to see the play. The play was not the thing.
Danny had never been to a West End theater before, unless he counted a trip on Beth's twenty-first to see Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre. He hadn't enjoyed it that much, and didn't think he'd bother with another musical.
He had phoned the Garrick the previous day and booked a seat for a matinee performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. They had told him to pick up his ticket from the box office fifteen minutes before the curtain rose. Danny arrived a little early, to find that the theater was almost deserted. He collected his ticket, bought a program and with the assistance of an usher made his way to the stalls, where he found his seat at the end of row H. Just a handful of people were dotted around.
He opened his program and read for the first time about how Oscar Wilde's play had been an instant hit in 1895 when it was first performed at the St. James's Theatre in London. He had to keep standing up to allow other people to take their seats in row H as a steady stream of ticket holders made their way into the theater.
By the time the lights went down, the Garrick was almost full and the majority of seats seemed to be occupied by young girls. When the curtain rose, Lawrence Davenport was nowhere to be seen, but Danny didn't have to wait long, because he made his entrance a few moments later. A face he would never forget. One or two of the audience immediately began clapping. Davenport paused before delivering his first line, as though he expected nothing less.
Danny was tempted to charge up onto the stage and tell the assembled gathering what sort of a man Davenport really was, and what had taken place at the Dunlop Arms the night their hero had stood and watched Spencer Craig stab his best friend to death. How differently he had acted in the alley from the swaggering, confident man he now portrayed. On that occasion he had given a far more convincing performance as a coward.
Like the young girls in the audience, Danny's eyes never left Davenport. As the performance continued, it became clear that if there was a mirror to gaze in, Davenport would find it. By the time the curtain fell for the interval, Danny felt he had seen quite enough of Lawrence Davenport to know just how much he'd appreciate a few matinees in jail. Danny would have returned to The Boltons and brought his file up to date if he hadn't found to his surprise how much he was enjoying the play.
He followed the jostling crowd into a packed bar and waited in a long queue while one barman tried manfully to serve all his would-be customers. Finally Danny gave up, and decided to use the time to read his program and learn more about Oscar Wilde, who he wished had been featured on the A-level syllabus. He became distracted by a high-pitched conversation that was taking place between two girls standing at the corner of the bar.